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Wednesday, Jan 20 1999
Suave and Sofissthticatid (Brrap)
Officers Tracey Boes and Kevin P. Murray stepped up to the lectern at the San Francisco Police Commission meeting and took their punishment like the contrite meatheads they were.

Each looked as downcast as possible and mumbled exactly the same statement: "I accept responsibility for my actions and apologize for any discredit I brought on the department." The union representative for the officers assured the commission that what Boes and Murray had done was an "isolated incident," and that nothing of the sort would ever happen again.

The officers then beat it the hell out of the room, apparently trying to salvage whatever dignity they had left. Considering what they did to deserve their 90-day suspensions, I can't blame them.

On a drunken night in Clovis -- and can any story end well that begins so? -- Boes and Murray stumbled over the line between lawman and lawbreaker and earned the most severe punishment a cop can receive in San Francisco, short of termination. They have been ordered to undergo an assessment process where they'll be probed for hooch problems. If the department so deems, the two young officers -- Boes is 30, Murray 28 -- will have to enroll in substance-abuse counseling.

If hooch abuse has reared its ugly head, treatment is always prudent. But in this case, an amendment to the usual protocol may be in order, an amendment only a smartass columnist can provide: The public telling of the saga of Boes and Murray and Clovis, Calif.

I sing the drunken shanty of Officers Boes and Murray for two reasons.
First, there's the matter of sheer, unadulterated fun. What these meatheads did in Clovis was so stupid, undignified, and unbecoming of San Francisco police officers that it raced past the reaction of outrage, and straight into the category of dark humor. Because laughing darkly is something of a San Francisco custom, I feel duty bound as both a journalist and a San Franciscan to recount the officers' buffoonery in elaborate detail.

Anything else would be selfish.
My second reason for delving into the Clovis incident has to do with preserving the careers of two apparently decent, hard-working, brave, young, and foolish police officers. By publicly placing dunce caps on them, I hope to deter future debacles of the Clovis variety. By advising them on the manly art of drunkenness, I hope to make the disasters that do occur less public.

The hallowed tradition that puts off-duty cops in their cups at bars late at night is one that ought to be celebrated. But the activity has to be done right, and Lawdy Miss Clawdy, Officers Boes and Murray are sorely in need of guidance on doing drunk right.

On July 27, 1997, Boes and Murray traveled to Fresno to compete, as members of the SFPD soccer team, in the Police Olympics, a competition featuring departments from all over the state in a host of athletic events. When they got there, the two officers learned their game had been canceled. They decided to hoist a few cool ones to celebrate their off-duty status, taking a cab to a Fresno dance club, where the available entertainment apparently was not to the officers' liking.

Boes and Murray wouldn't talk to me, so I don't really know why the Fresno dance club wasn't copacetic from their points of view on that evening. What I do know is they later settled into a bar in Clovis, a suburb of Fresno with a population of 72,000, a police force of 81, and four bars (all on the same block) to choose from. The officers selected one that oozed sophistication -- In Ka Hoots is its name -- and entered the establishment intent on consuming additional alcoholic beverages.

Once In Ka Hoots, they spied a table of three twentysomething Central Valley lasses and decided to focus their manly attentions on them. The last tumblers on the ancient machinery of folly had clicked into place. The night was headed south of stupid.

Undeterred by the obvious 3-to-2 ratio problem, glassy-eyed, full of wit only they could appreciate, Boes and Murray invited themselves to a seat at the table, attempting to elicit conversation from Christine, Melinda, and Kim, the fair damsels of Clovis.

The damsels weren't biting. In fact, they were so uninspired by the slurred patter of Boes and Murray that the young women changed tables.

Now, we all know police officers are taught the value of persistence as part of their academy training. In this case, however, it appears the training may have been too effective, seeping into the social lives of Officers Boes and Murray, for no sooner had the fair Christine, Melinda, and Kim lit at another table, then the officers followed.Once again, the wit of Officers Boes and Murray went over like a days-dead pelican at a beach picnic.

At this point, the officers had two basic choices: They could tuck tail and retreat. Or they could gamely press on in the face of rapidly diminishing odds of victory.

Our boys were game. The damsels weren't.
Table to table, Boes and Murray pursued the three women until finally, perhaps in a fit of desperation, one of our official representatives to the Police Olympics said something that offended the young ladies. Actually, the statement offended the ladies a great deal. In fact, they found the comment to be so offensive that when it came to the attention of the bartender, he decided it was time for Boes and Murray to leave. "Whatever was said so upset the young woman, she couldn't tell the officers what it was," says Micheline Golden, a spokesperson for the Clovis Police Department.

I was curious. What utterance could be so obnoxious, so repellent, that a woman well past the age of consent would not repeat it to an officer of the law?

Perhaps Boes' slavish adherence to Jean-Paul Sartre's division of the "I" and the "Me," as explained in his landmark 1937 existentialist study of consciousness, The Transcendence of the Ego, had offended Christine's more humanistic philosophical grounding?

About The Author

George Cothran


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